The Delhi metro blows my mind! Its 142 stations make shredding the pavement of India’s capital far easier – both for tourists and the Delhi-wallahs. It is undoubtably the fastest way to get around the city. But before pass the station’s gate, it is crucial for everybody’s enjoyment that you be aware of the untold rule that govern the metro universe. Failing to observe the mantras below will lead to confusion and bewilderment for other riders. Be respectful, and ride like a local:
1. When the train makes its way into the station, resist such sheepish temptations as letting passengers exit before crowding in front of the coach’s door. As soon as your train arrives, ensure you are properly barring the exit by standing in the precise middle of the car’s door. Once the door opens, PUSH WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT! By forcibly pushing your shoulders forward, you help other riders exit: their shoulders are turned sideways, thereby reducing the amount of space they occupy in the door and resulting in a speedy, efficient flight off the metro compartment.
2. Obey the fear that emanates from the horrifying possibility of not getting a seat. It’s a well-known fact that having to stand for a metro ride has numerous dangerous side-effects: status depreciation, leg fatigue, and overpowering sadness. Avoid such pains by running in front of the kind chaps ahead of you… and snatch that seat! Alternatively, skillfully insert your body in the 25 centimeters gap that still separates your competitor’s buttocks and the chair as he begins his descent onto the bench. Should the above strategies fail, see #3.
3. No space? MAKE SPACE! As Graham in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel puts it, “number one rule in India: There is always more room”. A mere 10 centimeters between two seated passengers is sufficient for you to attempt a space grab. Thrust your bum into that space, gently compressing passengers on both your sides against their fellow riders. Disregard any self-inhibiting thoughts pertaining to the fact your behaviour makes the ride utterly uneasy for your other passengers. In case misplaced altruism is getting the best out of you, review the risks associated with a stand-up ride laid out in #2 once more.
4. As your HUDA City Centre-bound train makes its entry into Central Secretariat Station, the tension is palpable. All are aware of the hard reality of the outside world. At times, the trains on the violet line comes every 4 minutes… but there is the terrifying possibility that it could take up to an unearthly 12 minutes before the next train shows up. As a connecting passenger, warm up for the sprint of your life by elbowing with your companions a few seconds prior to the car coming to a full stop. When the doors open, only one thought should occupy your mind: “Run Forrest, Run”. If you’re a Bollywood aficionado, you can imagine you’re Simran running for her beloved Raj whose train is making a potentially fateful departure at the end of DDLJ.
5. At Kashmere Gate Station, the heavy traffic generated by the intersection of the red line and the yellow line creates what my friends and I have come to refer as the small brother of the Calgary stampede. Here, any strategy is allowed, and even the smallest parcels of free terrain on the train are fair game. The only rule that organizes this place is chaos. Brace yourself, and laugh at this unbelievable experience with your fellow riders.
To be certain, the Delhi metro can be an exhilarating experience. Sarcasm aside, however, it is a remarkably efficient transportation system – and it is far less crowded than its Mumbai counterpart, the “local”. The Delhi metro unequivocally beats the Toronto Transit Commission’s derelict installations when it comes to reliability, and it is far more extensive than Vancouver’s SkyTrain. Delhiites are proud of their metro, and deservedly so for it truly is a world-class facility. Despite an impressive daily ridership of 1.8 million, it is remarkably clean and not once have I noticed people spitting, littering or damaging property. On the whole, the ride is generally a pleasant one. When it gets crowded, however, the rules above are in full swing. Join the crowd and embrace the frenzy. It’s a blast for less than 0.50 USD (the maximum you’ll pay for a single ride).
Props to you India for the Delhi metro!
Practical information for travellers:
The metro schedule spans most of the day: trains run from approximately 6 AM to 11 PM. Service is also frequent, with a departure every 2.5 minutes on the busiest lines during peak hours. Finding your way around the metro system is easy since all sings and announcements are made in both English and Hindi. Women can travel safely as the first compartment in the moving direction is reserved for ladies. The bus system and the metro system are managed by two different entities and you’ll need to purchase two fares separately to ride on both. On the metro, fares are calculated based on distance using automated control systems at the entrance and the exit system in a fashion similar to that of the London tube. Smart Cards can be obtained through a speedy, no non-sense process at any station’s customer service desk (not at the token desk). Your initial 100 Rs. will cover the 50 Rs. refundable security deposit for the card and give you 50 Rs. of travel credit. Afterwards, minimum recharge is 100 Rs. Tourist Cards are relatively expensive and seldom end up saving you money – using tokens or a Smart Card is almost assuredly a wiser choice.